I was just another girl with another story. A story that might have been known to the others, while some might find it the first. I had no idea that time that the story has already begun and was the prologue to something big.
I was nothing but ordinary. Not so pretty, but not so eye-hurting either. I was one of the top of the class, but I was more like the easy going student who only studies at the last minute. Nothing special about that. It only turned out that I understand a lot faster and a lot easier than the rest. But really, if I had known then that this 'talent' called 'wisdom' would come in as a pretty bad tool, maybe I would have just raked my brain out.
If 'intuition' could be called as one of my talents, then it's a very useful but very hating talent. It comes in handy since I notice the very small details that a person might be hiding. A little disturbance in their mind, or a bit of emotional disturbance. I could sense it all; even those who lies. I could pretty much 'guess' what the issue is before anyone could say anything, and I find it useful. But sometimes, people get hurt or something when I hit the nail on the head. It's because whenever I speak, it would always be a 'bulls-eye'.
My friends consist of the class. I wasn't the mood maker or something, but they call me their 'laughter'. Maybe I couldn't crack jokes right, nor was I a talker, but I laugh easily; and cry just as easy. Whenever someone cracks, I would always be the hardest one to laugh. To the point where my eyes would be teary and my tummy would hurt. My laughter was one of their amusements. It was because I laugh whenever I remember the funny things even way, way after the bomb was dropped. Perhaps in a third person's point of view, I would be classified as one of the 'people under the red roof' since in silence, I would just laugh out of nowhere.
I walked along the hallway of the fourth floor to go the chemistry class. Chemistry, it was one of my dreaded subjects. I mean, what's the point of being so detailed when you grow up to be a business man? Every first class of the semester, the teachers would ask us, "Why do you think you need to take up this subject?" Honestly speaking, we would always answer the same thing: "Because it's in the curriculum." If it wasn't, who would take up such a class except for those who wants to be doctors, or chemists or anything that they will use the structure of an element for in the future.
I stepped in the classroom to find two people near my desk. The boy was standing while the girl was sitting on the edge of the table eating her snacks. Ruka and Hotaru were my childhood friends. Hotaru; it was more like I was her only best friend, Ruka being tossed aside. But in a way, they were also friends. She has a poker face, a never changing cold expression. She was called the 'ice princess'. Not that she cares or anything, which made it even more suiting for her. Well, her face might be blank, her words might be harsh, but her heart definitely wasn't as cold as her alias was.
Ruka. Well, he was the most gentle person I have ever met. Not to mention that he was also one of the most handsome. He's half and half, a japanese and a french. Blonde hair, blue eyes. He was just the typical image of a prince in a white horse in fairy tails. A smile was always on his face, and was very polite. Who wouldn't fall for someone like him?
Okay, I admit it. He was the person I loved the most. Maybe his warmth attracted me to him. He emits this warmth aura that makes me feel calm. His hands make me feel secure. Now, I might sound like a love struck fan girl, but being with him for the past thirteen years, I just couldn't help but fall for him.
I might be in love with him, but dang I wasn't the person who shows it. It was like, I just realized that I love him. But nothing more. No special treatment. That way, I could always be safe.
"Mikan!" He called me with a smile. I walked towards my desk and sat down.
"Why? Why does chemistry has to be the very first subject in the morning?" I asked them with a groan.
"Your complaints make you a lot uglier, idiot." And that means 'good morning' in Hotaru's dictionary. I chuckled in the thought. I couldn't believe that I already compiled an 'Imai's Dictionary'. When people who doesn't know her hear her speak, I would gladly lend them the dictionary so as to avoid misunderstandings.
"Life is so unfair. You always get a good grade while I am the hard worker." He pat me on the head. Which made my ears ting a bit.
"Don't touch her so casually, Nogi." Hotaru slapped his hands away.
"Aww. So, the 'ice princess' is concerned about her best friend." I kind of liked the sound of that. She don't seem like it, but I know that deep down, she's concerned about my well-being.
"No, Nogi. I was concerned about you. She might infect you with her idiocy." She stated that so nonchalantly with her poker face. It kinda hurts, but hearing it from her, it was kind of funny. I mean, they were at least friends. A bad-friend-relationship it seems, but still a friend no matter.
"Hotaru, so mean."
"Here." Ruka got something from his pocket and then handed it to me. It was a clip with a star, shining with glitters. "I saw it and kind of reminded me of you. So, there."
For a second there, I thought I saw his background glimmered. My heart 'thumped' and my ears got prickly. Why does he have to be so nice and so damn good looking and be my childhood friend? This must be torture…
"Thanks…" I glanced up to Hotaru, who by the way, knows everything about me; including my undying love for my childhood friend for almost ten years now. She didn't change her expression. I wondered what I was looking for in the first place? Maybe the sympathizing look that you get from a friend. Why? Simply because I know that Ruka already has someone he likes. To the point where he always talk about her.
I knew, through his stories, that I didn't have any chances of winning. The way he described her, I'd know that she's beautiful, smart and nice. The very ideal girl. A girl suited for him, the ideal guy.
Everyday was fun, until of course he opens his mouth and talk about the girl. The girl whom I don't even know the name yet nor have I seen. Everyday with his constant love struck gibbers, I kind of gave up already. Like, I really have to give up on this love.
Hotaru told me before, that his love right now might be just admiration of infatuation which eventually ends after a year or so. That kind of gave me a line of hope, but I figured out that the longer I hang on to it, the longer I suffer more.
"It must be sad to be you." Hotaru, for the first time – okay, scratch that. It wasn't the first time that she was the first to speak. She does that whenever two were alone and I wouldn't say a thing. I wasn't much of a talker, but when it was Hotaru, I narrate almost everything from scratch to ending of my life. That's the scale of my friendship with her.
I sighed. Must she say it that way? I slumped on the floor of the roof top, and sat beside Hotaru who was eating happily without worries.
"It is sad to be me. Hey! No! I mean, it's sad to be in this situation." I groaned and let out the stress that was building up inside me. "Why do I have to be his best-friend-slash-confrontation-booth-about-his-girl?"
"Correction. She's not yet his." She paused dramatically and used it to sip her milk a little and then added, "But he likes her."
I rolled my eyes. Trust her to make me face the worst case scenario. "Yeah, yeah. Thanks for scrubbing it on my face."
"Don't worry. You won't get any uglier."
A moment of silence passed. I wondered how many more days, months or years would it take before all the pain fades away? This was the first time that Ruka fell for someone. Before the girl came to his life, I was the center of his attention. I got spoiled by him to the point where people mistook us for couples. I was happy to the extreme. So happy that my heart felt like it would explode anytime anywhere. Thos ewere the times when I had a constant smile on my face that my jaws hurt. But now, it was all gone.
"So? What are you planning to do?" She asked me again. One of her eyebrows raised, as if daring me to answer honestly.
I sighed in defeat. "What more can I do?" The moment it escaped my mouth, I felt my chest hollowed. The air from my lungs got stucked and my insides got warm. My eyes started to water, but then I looked up in desperation to stop tears from falling. "I just have to go cheer for him."
"What a martyr. If I were you, I'd blast the girl out of this world and take him all for myself." She said that so nonchalantly that it made me chuckle.
"You're so mean." I wiped my tears with my fingers.
"Yeah. I know."
"What drama." It was a husky and low voice. A voice which sounded so calm yet powerful. So cool, yet so warm. I turned to look where the voice came from. Then, a figure stood up from up the rooftop's door entrance where the water tank is. It took a while before my eyes was adjusted to the light. My breath, my precious breath was held by the appearance of the guy. Raven hair, built body, handsome face. But what drew my attention more were his eyes. Crimson red eyes.
I felt like I was drowning from the sea of cold fire. That was how his gaze was. So cold, but then the color of his eyes were blazing hot. So contradicting, and it only made me drown more. I couldn't take my eyes off those eyes. It only sucked me in, to the point that my chest was hurting due to lack of air.
His eyes fell on me, and for a moment there I thought that his eyes widened up a bit. Snickers came out from his mouth with a smirk on his lips. He ruffled his messy hair, and then put those two hands inside his pocket. I didn't realize that I was staring at his eyes for such a long time. Not until I saw his lips open and heard him muttered, "Idiot."
I was suddenly pulled back into reality where it hit me in the head. He just called me an idiot. "What did you say?!" I stood up in heat. I wasn't angry, I was just embarassed to be caught off guard, more so when I was staring at him. "You! How dare you call me that? And who are you by the way?! You cut classes didn't you?!" And then my eyes noticed his clothes. "And you're not even wearing your uniform?"
I heard him 'tch'ed and then the most unbelievable thing I have yet seen happened right in front of my very own eyes; he jumped from were the water tank was. He jumped. With his own foot. And he landed unharmed. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him do that. Like I was the one who jumped and not him. How could he do those things? Why was he so amazing? Those are my thoughts regarding to that boy.
"So loud." He mumbled silenlty but enough for me to hear, and then he walked away with his hands still in his pocket.
I was left dumbfounded. I sat back and slouched beside Hotaru. I puffed and crossed my arms across my chest, feeling irritated. "Such an awful mouth!" He was really gorgeous, but his mouth stinks. For a moment there, the thought of my heart ache was temporarily forgotten. But I was too naïve for my own good. I thought it would last that way.
"Mikan. Let's go to the park after my club activities." Ruka enthustiastically invited me before the last subject started. Something was really off about him. He appeared to be more brilliant than earlier this day. His smile was wider. His eyes were sparkling, and his hands were trembling. I could imagine how excited he was that it made him tremble. And I could imagine why, or who made him be excited at the least. And of course, it wasn't the idea of going to the park with me. It was that girl's doing.
I clung to Hotaru like clinging to my own dear life. As if it was to be taken away. "Hotaruuuu. I think I might be dying…"
"That's good to hear." She said nonchalantly. "And don't cling on me. It gives me the creeps." I fixed myself up and grabbed my school bag with a sigh. How long are the gods going to torment me? And then the door bursted open and revealed a panting Ruka. Naturally, his face has a smile. A shining smile.
"Mikan! Let's go! Let's go! You too Imai!" He rushed to us and grabbed our wrists in excitement.
"Sorry to break you, but I can't go. I have plans." She brushed off his hand that held her wrist and then started to walk towards the door.
"Aw, Imai. You're just gonna go and rake some money, aren't you?" Ruka teased her. Hotaru, she's one workholic girl. Of course, it's the money that she wants. She's been saving ever since we were kids to achieve her dream: Become a successful woman and live in luxury. Therefore, her motto became, 'Money is Life'. She now has a business of her own, and impossible at it may seem, she a well-known paparazzi. She knows every secret a big person has. And she uses it for her own gain. And the term that describes it is 'Blackmail'.
She stopped her tracks and turned around to face us again. With a smug but nonchalant look on her face, she answered, "Obviously." And then she walked away.
I've got to admit that her answer gave me the chills. "She's scary." I muttered under my breathe, repressing the goosebumps that my best friend gave me.
"I know." I caught a glimpse on Ruka's face, and I was so surprised that he was sweating beads. "I don't want her to be an enemy. Good thing we're childhood friends." But then I realized something…
"You know that being a childhood friend won't make her stop turning her head to us when it comes to money, don't you?"
"Hah. You're right…"
"Ooooh. How long has it been since we last went here?" The park was still the same. This park was were we three used to play together as kids since it has a playground and all. Just behind those trees, a small river runs flowing. I remember that we often go there specially when the time of fireflies come. We often sneak out at night to go and see the fireflies swim around the air and light the park. It was magical in the eyes of the kids that we were. It was so amazing.
"Hey, remember the festival of fireflies here?" Ruka ran around the playground. "It's coming soon right? Oh! I remember we play with sand around here. And then, and then, we can find beatles under that tree." He kept on blabbering about how fun it was back then. On why he was playing with two girls and not the boys around his age. He just kept on talking. In a way, it was good to see him so full of energy. His dazzling smile was burning my eyes in a good way.
But deep down inside of me, my heart was burning. So hot that it hurts. Because I know, I know the reason behind his energetic self. And it hurts to know that it was not me. I was with him, beside him, but his mind and his heart were all so far away, looking at some other girl… Sometimes, I wish I can't sense things like this that easy and remain just as ignorant. Sometimes, I wish that we weren't born around the same block. Because I know, that being with him for the longest of time, made him look at me with a 'brotherly eyes'…
"So, what's with the memory lane?" I asked him out of the blue.
"Aw, Mikan. You're so gloomy! I'm just remembering things." He chuckled, taking my words as a joke. It was a joke in his ears, but in truth, it was me complaning. He sat down the nearest bench and looked at the stars. "Sorry. I'm just so happy." Of course, he was smiling. This time, I felt the distance between us. I was right beside him, but his eyes were fixed up the sky. I know, I knew then that 'she' was on his mind.
I walked towards the bench and sat beside him. "So, what happened with her?" I managed to ask despite the stiffening of my jaws. As the words left my mouth, I felt my chest tighten once again. My eyes were teary, but I managed to keep them in. I couldn't breathe. Just one question and it smothered me.
"Wah! How did you know?!" He turned to me so violently, giving away that he was really shocked.
I smiled bitterly. Why was I bitter? It was not like I didn't know what his answer was gonne be. I knew. But why? Why did I secretly wished that it wasn't 'her' but me? I knew that he was in love with 'her'. But why was I hurt? It wasn't like we were in a relationship. He wasn't mine to begin with. So, why do I feel like he's going away? "It's not like it's hard to guess." I answered him with a bitter smile, but I couldn't look directly to his eyes. I was afraid that once I look at him, my façade would betray me.
"Wow! You're amazing, Mikan! Haha. Looks like I can't hide anything from you." And then he sighed and once again looked up the starry sky. "Well, she's going to transfer to our school next term. I can't believe it. After this summer, she's gonna be with us. Maybe this time, I can introduce you to her."
My ears twitched. So, she's gonna come, huh? Looks like it's bye-bye time already. "Wait, what? You're gonna introduce 'me' to 'her'?"
His smile became wider. "Yep! She's now my girlfriend. Just today! Just this lunch!" He announced happily to the world. He shouted it, like he was really proud. "She's mine! Haha!" Listening to his stories was heart wrenching. Listening to his announcement was more hurting. How much more when the next term comes and I see them together? I wondered how painful it would be.
"Oi, I hate to disturb your happy time. But it's really getting late and I have somewhere I have to go." My tough character automatically showed up for defence. That was how I could endure things. I pretend that it has nothing to do with me, and then my face would tighten, my eyes would sharpen. And then I couldn't feel anything anymore. But then, that façade was good. Too good that nobody but Hotaru could see through it. It was kind of disappointing how he, my childhood friend, couldn't even see the things I was hiding. I thought that he couldn't see. It was much more relieving than thinking that he see through it, but he doesn't do anything about it. I just want to believe even just a little. I just wanted to be selfish.
"Ah! I am so sorry! Alright then. Thank you for listening, Mikan."
I smiled back at him. "It's alright. Okay, I'm going on ahead. See you tomorrow loverboy." With that, I walked away not turning back to look at him even once. My feet were moving, but I didn't know where I was going. My head was spinning, and my sight was getting blurry by the second.
I stopped my tracks and then my tears came rolling down. The air of suffocation came running to me and embraced me once again. I was deprived of air, my chest hurts. It felt so tight that I couldn't breathe. I didn't know how long I kept on crying. I just did, until my knees gave up on me and I fell to the ground. I didn't know what I was doing. I just lie there on the ground crying. I didn't even notice where I was. All I know was that…it was painful. So painful.
After my moment of crying, I stood up and fixed myself. I could not believe that I just lied down on the dirty floor. It was then that I noticed where I was. I was at the northern park where very few passes by since it was isolated.
My feet started to move around. I didn't know where it was taking me, but it was like it knows where it was supposed to go. It felt like something was calling, that something was pulling me. To the dark area of cherry blossom trees, I found a figure of a man lying under. When I saw the figure, I temporarily forgot why I was crying. My heart skipped a beat for a reason and I just ran to him, thinking that maybe something was wrong.
"Hey! Hey!" I shook him. My heart was racing, my head was thinking all of the 'what if's. What if he was robbed or something? What if he's wounded? Should I call the ambulance and the police? "Are…are you alright? Hey! Should I call the ambulance?"
And then…ever so slowly, his eyes opened and revealed his crimson eyes. It was shining under the moonlight, giving off a melow feeling. Once again, my breath was taken away. I couldn't revert my eyes away from his. My world stopped again. It was the boy from earlier with those magical eyes that could always make me forget everything else. I was convinced then that he put me under his spell. And just as fast as the second, his eyes sharpened. Like a wild animal taking its defence.
"What the-? It's just the polka-dotted panty girl." He said irritatingly and he messed with his hair again, taking off his gaze on me. Once his eyes were away, I could suddenly feel the cool breeze of the air again.
"Eh?" He then stood up and started to walk away. And like a meteor falling, I realized what he meant. "Eh?! Wha-? How…?! How did you know?!" I ran to him feeling so embarassed. But inside, I remembered how he snickered earlier on the rooftop. I was sitting then, with my skirt and all...
He stopped his tracks and turned to me. "Why the hell are you following me, little girl?"
"Who're you calling 'little girl'?! I'm not little anymore! And I don't know either why I'm following you!" I shouted on his face.
"What the heck?! Leave me alone! Ugly! Are you a lost dog or something?!" His voice was so powerful. But I didn't even flinch. Call me stupid or what, but I didn't get scared in his yelling and in his sharp glare.
"What 'ugly' you pervert! And how did you know what undies I'm wearing?!" I stomped my feet in irritation. I stupidly asked even though I kind of knew already.
"You're not even gonna deny it?" He asked in amusement.
"Why would I deny it when it's the truth?!" I felt like crying. Why was he making me say such embarassing stuff?
He didn't answer back. He just kept staring at me as my tears fell rolling on my cheeks. Why was I even crying? I didn't know why. More so in front of the person I just saw today.
I cried and cried for who knows how long, until everything went dark.
"I can't believe that guy!" I complained to Hotaru early morning the next day. "He just left me sleeping in the park! I can't believe it! When I opened my eyes, it was the middle of the night and he was nowhere in sight! He didn't even bother to cover me with a jacket or something. I mean, I am a girl! No matter how flat chested I am, I am still a girl and I declare it no matter what!" I huffed. We were inside the classroom, waiting for the teacher for the first period to come. Hotaru was just seating in front of me, so it was not a problem for me to talk to her while waiting.
Hotaru just stared at me, and then she opened her mouth. "I can't believe it." She said.
"Right?! He was so not a gentleman!" I crossed my arms across my chest.
"I can't believe how stupid you are." She added.
"Do you even know him?"
I shook my head.
She rolled her eyes. "Why do you expect some stranger to be so damn good to you? Was he running a charity for a homeless dog?"
My ears perked up and then I chuckled in realisation. "Wow! Hotaru! He also asked the same thing! You're so great!"
"Okay, okay class. Settle down please." Narumi-sensei came in to start the day. He was my favorite teacher. He was so cool in my eyes even if the others saw him as weird. He wasn't weird. He just liked the frilly and lacey stuff, and he was just too happy for them. But anyway, Narumi usually won't come unless he would make an announcement or make us do something really important. It's not like we were complaining or something. "Please welcome your new classmate."
"What? But we only have a week left before summer vacation." I heard Koko asked. Koko was the joker of the class, and I really like him. He makes me laugh no matter what.
"Well, he has his reasons." I noticed that Narumi tried to avoid the question. "Please enter."
The doors banged open and revealed him. Yes, it was him. My blood suddenly rushed to my head, but I managed to not shout at him. But yes, I glared at him. Once he faced the class, silence fell over. It was like they could feel the intimidating aura that surrounded him. But then, a roaring shrieks of the girls overthrew the silence.
"Please be my boyfriend!"
"No! He's mine!"
They were all arguing, until Sumire stood up. She was, well, she felt like she was the leader of the class. If there was something, it was because she was the most aggressive of us all. Though most of us really follow Ruka and not her. She was also one of the dying fans of Ruka. That was how popular he was.
"I've decided! You, pretty boy, is our idol! I'm going to change the name of our fanclub from Ruka loved to…Sensei! What's his name?" She asked.
"Oh." Narumi-sensei looked like he was pulled out of his trance. "He is Natsume Hyuuga."
Silence fell once again. I found it amusing how the class fell from silence to roaring to silence. And then they roared again.
"He's a Hyuuga?!"
They were all mumbling and muttering things I couldn't understand like stocks or something. I poked Hotaru on the back. "Hotaru, what's with that?"
"Hyuuga corporation. The largest company in Japan covering from finance to electronics. Even hotels and resorts." She answered in a way which I could understand. I was shocked of course, who would have known that he was such a rich boy? Well, Ruka was also a rich boy, but not as rich as him.
"Oh." That was all I could say.
"And now, I'm announcing who his partner should be." Narumi even stirred up the roaring class. It was like a stampede was gonna happen soon.
"NO! Me! I'd gladly abandon my partner!"
The thing is, we were partnered randomly by Narumi. Ruka and Hotaru were partners, but I have none. Which made me do things alone the hard way. And also, it would make me the easiest target for the partner candidacy. But I sure hope it wouldn't be me.
"Mikan Sakura." Narumi called me.
"Yes?" I thought he just called out my name, but looking to the crestfallen faces of the girls, I understood why he called me. He just made me the partner of that obnoxious brat, Natsume Hyuuga. "WHAT?!" I stood up in shock which caught his attention.
In my view, I saw him smirked so smugly. Like he was belittling me or something.